Famous Futuristic Cars

June 22nd, 2016

The exhibit “Dream Cars: Innovative Design, Visionary Ideas” was held at High Museum of Art Atlanta in 2014, and it featured the world’s most stunning concept cars built between 1934 and 2001. In many instances, seemingly futuristic cars like the ones in this exhibit influence what’s to come in the automotive industry. For instance, William Stout’s Scarab, built in 1936, was inspired by the shape of a scarab beetle. While it seemed radical at the time, the shape eventually gave way to a classic automotive style: the minivan.

Here are some popular examples of futuristic cars and how they’ve influenced modern car culture:

Walt Disney: Always Ahead of His Time

Walt Disney possessed an uncanny sense of futuristic cars. In the 1958 TV show, “Magic Highway U.S.A.,” Disney predicted outlandish concepts that are currently popular vehicle technology.

For poor visibility, Disney showed a windshield that could become a radar screen indicating the outline of objects. Today, this is a head-up display. The show also suggested a dashboard panel with up-to-the-minute traffic bulletins and a projection of safe driving speed. Today, this automotive feature is commonly known as a navigation screen and comes standard in many cars. Plus, the rear-view mirror with a television picture in “Magic Highway” has evolved into the rear-view back-up camera.

Disney also predicted autonomous vehicles that allowed an individual to have business meetings while on the road. Autonomous vehicles showed up as early as the 1969 film “The Love Bug,” which starred Herbie, a red, white and blue Volkswagon Beetle that could navigate sans driver.

Saving Gotham in Style

The prince of autonomous vehicles, the Batmobile, has assisted the Dark Knight of Gotham City since 1939. Besides all its life-saving bells and whistles, the Batmobile was also able to drive itself to meet up with Batman at any location.

While that capability isn’t available just yet, automatic key fobs and smartphone apps do allow drivers to find their car in a parking lot, turn on the heat, defroster or air-conditioning remotely and even start the car with the push of a button.

Lightning-Powered Cars

The notorious DeLorean in “Back to the Future” gave the car company a boost of recognition, especially since many of the time machine’s qualities were killer! The car was originally fueled by plutonium, which was replaced by a bolt of lightning that catapulted off a clock tower and traveled through the flux capacitor — Dr. Emmett Brown’s time-traveling invention. Today, electric cars aren’t so far from Brown’s vision, and there’s also a promise of vehicles that will run on solar power.

Taking to the Sky

Flying cars? Not that far off. In the early 1960s, “The Jetsons” had people imagining a world in space. The family resided high above the ground in Orbit City and commuted in a flying car shaped like a UFO with a transparent bubble-shaped roof.

Today, Boston-based company Terrafugia — whose name is Latin for “escape the earth” — is working on the TF-X, a hybrid electric flying car! The four-person vehicle is partly self-driven, too.

For more information on futuristic cars, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Flickr

Drone 101: What to know before you buy

February 5th, 2016

What You Need to Know Before Buying a Drone

by Holly Reich on January 18, 2016  www.techlicious.com
in Tech 101, Tips & How-Tos :: 2 comments

John O'Sullivan take a selfie with his droneJohn O’Sullivan of O’Sullivan Studios takes a selfie with his drone.

Drones are “the next big thing” for hobbyists, as they quite literally and figuratively take off. Once limited to professional use for tasks like military covert operations and firefighting, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) are now being produced at prices that bring them into the reach of the everyday enthusiast, and are becoming increasingly popular for recreational use.

The Consumer Technology Association expects “the U.S. market will approach 105-million-dollars in revenue in 2015 (increasing by more than 52 percent from 2014) with unit sales expected to approach 700,000, an increase of 63 percent,” says Laura Hubbard, Senior Manager of Industry Communications for the Association. And research forecasts from the group say the global market for drones could reach 300-million-dollars by the year 2018.

You can see why drone sales are exploding from the beautiful video by O’Sullivan Studios, which showcases the power of drone aerial photography to transform the everyday into something special.

However, the outlook for drones is not entirely rosy. Recreational drones are making headlines for creating airport hazards, interfering with emergency services and endangering people’s lives. And in order to keep better tabs on all of these new unmanned aircraft, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is now requiring owners register their drones.

So what should you know before buying a drone? We talked to industry experts and pros that use drones to find out.

What Type of Drone Should You Purchase?

Steve Cohen, an Educator at Bergen County, New Jersey Technical Schools, Applied Technology High School, advises novices to buy a Micro Drone first. That’s a drone that can essentially fit in your palm or pocket. You can test it inside your home and you can easily find models for less than 100 dollars.

Cohen explains, “The micro-drones are not suitable for outdoor flight—they are purely intended for operators to become more proficient in operating drones. Once you get into the $600 price point and a weight range of 2-4 pounds (with safety features like geo-fencing and return to home), you can start taking your aircraft to higher altitudes.”

The controls for micro-drones are basically the same as larger drones, however you are likely not getting the safety features and other bells and whistles, which can include GPS and video downlinks to tablets and smartphones.

“Learning to work with a smaller drone will help you man a larger, more expensive and more fully featured complex model,” adds Cohen.

Cheerson CX-10c microdroneThe Cheerson CX-10c weighs just 0.53 ounces and takes 0.3MP pictures
and SD video.

For example, you could start off purchasing this inexpensive and tiny 0.53-ounce Cheerson CX-10c ($34.99 on techlicious.com) with a flight time of about 4 minutes and an SD (0.3MP) onboard camera or the 0.53-ounce Hubsan H107C+ HD ($89.99 on techlicious.com) with a flight time of about 7 minutes and an onboard HD camera. Neither of these drones require registration.

DJI Phantom 3 StandardThe DJI Phantom 3 Standard flies for 25 minutes, weighs 2.68 pounds
and records HD video.

Once you’ve established your comfort level and worked on your flying ability, you may then want to consider options in larger sizes and price tags. For instance, the medium-sized 2.68-pound DJI Phantom 3 Standard ($499 on Amazon) has a flying time of up to 25 minutes and an on-board, stabilized camera that can stream HD video back to the operator and take 12MP stills. The 3.3-pound 3DR Solo Drone Quadcopter ($999 on Amazon) has a flying time of up to 25 minutes and advanced operational features like follow me, orbit (for circling an object), selfie (for keeping you in the picture as it flies) and safety net, which ensures your drone stays below the maximum height allowed by the FAA (400 feet). You’ll need to supply your own compatible GoPro HERO3+ ($227.15 on Amazon) orHERO4 (starting at $199.99 on Amazon) action camera.

In general, the more expensive, larger drones are tooled with everything from 3-D mapping and videography to search and rescue maps. The good news is that while larger, heavier and more technical, they can be easier to operate.

Recently, manufacturers, including DJI and 3DR, have started work on integrating maps into drones that can be updated in real time with no-fly zones, allowing for geo-fencing and the creation of virtual boundaries. So if there were an emergency, drone operators would know how to avoid temporary no-fly zones.

Do You Need to Register Your Drone?

As of December 21, 2015, owners of a drone weighing more than 0.55 pounds and less than 55 pounds, including accessories like on-board cameras, must register their drone with the FAA. To register, you must be 13 years of age or older and a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident. It costs just $5 and registrations entered before midnight EST on January 21, 2016 will be refunded.

What You Need to Know Before You Fly

While they may look easy to fly, even the smallest of drones are potentially much more than mere toys. While one can learn the techniques with an inexpensive micro-drone, experts suggest that you get trained and educated in the craft before taking one out in the field.

“Go to a group like Drone User Group or the Academy of Model Aeronautics to seek out clubs and forums,” advises Cohen.

The Consumer Technology Association ’s emphasizes the importance of the FAA and industry guidance and encourages users to review this check-list of tips for safe recreational use of drones before they start flying them including:

  • Operate the device under specific safety guidelines established under federal, state, and local regulations. Check out KnowBeforeYouFly.com an educational campaign and website established to help you to learn drone specs, requirements and guidelines for your area by plugging your zip code into their locator.
  • If you’re flying a drone within five miles of an airport, be sure to notify the airport or control tower before you begin flying your drone.
  • To avoid other air traffic, your drone should fly no higher than 400 feet above the ground. Always keep your unmanned aircraft within eyesight, and use an observer to assist if needed.
  • Avoid intentionally flying over unprotected persons or moving vehicles, and keep your unmanned aircraft at least 25 feet away from individuals and vulnerable property.
  • Sensitive infrastructure or property such as airports, power stations, water treatment facilities, correctional facilities, heavily traveled roadways, government facilities, stadiums, etc. should be avoided as places to fly your drone.
  • Remain well clear of – and do not interfere with – manned aircraft operations. You must observe and avoid other aircraft and obstacles at all times.
  • Adverse weather conditions such as high winds or reduced visibility will impact your ability to manage your aircraft.
  • Don’t conduct surveillance or take pictures of people in areas where there’s an expectation of privacy. Be respectful and considerate of privacy concerns in the areas where you fly.

The FAA offers its latest guidance on its website.

What Happens If You Enter a No-Fly Zone While Using Your Drone?

Visit KnowBeforeYouFly.com before launching your drone. Breaking the rules could result in a citation, community service and/or probation plus confiscation of your drone and all the accompanying equipment. If the offense is larger (such as hurting a pedestrian or destroying public property) the punishment could be much more serious.  So respect the guidelines, play safe and have fun with your new hobby!

[Image credits: O’Sullivan Studios, Cheerson, DJI]

Getting Up to Date

December 17th, 2015

I just looked at Hollywrite.com and realized I have not posted for such a long time. I have been on the road test-driving cars and writing articles when I’m not traveling. I haven’t decided how I want to proceed with this space … so I’m going to give it a big THINK over the holidays. Does the world need Hollywrite.com?  I have plenty to say but not sure where to put it. To this point, all of my posts have been published work. My next step may be a bit of that and a bit of sharing my thoughts, ideas, recipes, tips etc. etc. Hang on…



Ford’s Global Think Tank

September 30th, 2015

Excerpt from Motor Matters:

Ford: A Global Think Tank

“Looking Further With Ford” is the automaker’s yearly trends conference, which explores global micro-trends.
Sheryl Connelly, manager global consumer trends and futuring for Ford Motor Company, addresses changes across the globe and demographics with issues that confront everyone, from Gen Y (millennial), Gen X, and Baby Boomers, to the new Gen Z.
Connelly notes “New forms of mobility and collaborative platforms are emerging every day. At Ford, we are always mindful of the blueprint for sustainability, and the need to push the change as much as to adapt to it. You’ll see that in the products that Ford introduces.”
I have known Sheryl over the years and consider her a major force in the automotive industry. She is sharp, energetic, fashion forward, fun, and open minded. Sheryl is a motivator for change. I conducted the following interview.

Holly Reich: How do you source your micro-trends? Do you travel around the world, use the Internet for ideas, or source through Pinterest, Houzz, etc.?

Sheryl Connelly: Although the micro-trend book is published on an annual basis, each edition is built on over a decade of Ford’s trend research, which focuses on consumer values, attitudes, and behaviors. As we develop new trends, we draw upon this historical foundation, and then vet the concepts with thought leaders, academics, and subject-matter experts from around the world.


Women and Hot Cars

August 4th, 2015

The Heels & Wheels 2015 Event: Women Driving Hot New Cars

heels & wheels

Women drive the conversation at Heels & Wheels.

In May of this year, a group of women influencers in the automotive market met at the Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village, California. We were there for Heels & Wheels, a yearly event that brings female representatives from major auto manufacturers and journalists together.

The test drives took place in the Santa Monica area- a sunny venue to try out winding mountain roads, crowded highways and city streets. In other words, real-life driving.

2015 Heels & Wheels

Here are some of my major takeaways:

New Car Buying:  Women vs. Men by KBB.com

  • Women take longer to purchase than men: 75 days versus 63 days
  • Women feel less knowledgeable (41% vs. 64%) and less confident than men (38% vs. 59%)
  • Women research more. They spend 10.4 min more on research vs. 3.8 mins for men
  • Women shop for features; men shop for brands
  • Two times more women are undecided, 2 out of 5 men know what car they want

How did you pick which car to bring?

GM: The Regal GS is a great “best foot forward” car for Buick and really illustrates what the brand stands for. It’s graceful and elegant on the outside, beautiful and comfortable on the inside, it has great technology throughout, and it’s really fun to drive.

heels & wheels

Jaguar Land Rover: The vehicles JLR provided were a 2015 Discovery Sport HSE and a Jaguar F-TYPE Convertible. We choose to send the F-Type because the route the ladies took went through the LA mountains to Malibu and made a fun drive in a convertible!

Mazda: We chose the 2016 Mazda6 for this event because of its relevance to the women that attended, as well as their target audience. The Mazda6 is an affordable mid-sized vehicle – offering an innovative interior design, with all the latest safety technology, and an enhanced exterior design.  It has functionality, ride comfort, and quietness – features that are important to most women when making a purchasing decision. Most importantly, it is fun-to-drive, and H&W is for female journalists for whom driving matters.

heels & wheels

Nissan: Murano has a lot to offer—unique style, advanced technology and a suite of safety and convenience features that make the daily commute more enjoyable. The all-new Murano, we like to say has an extra set of eyes with its four cameras and three radar sensors.  Nissan Murano has a lower in-step height and wider door opening, making it easier to get in/out of the vehicle and to secure infants and toddlers in their car seats. We also lowered the height of the instrument panel, shortening that “seat-to-screen” distance. That, combined with the larger screen and less audio and navigation switches, makes for a more user-friendly (and driver-friendly) experience.

Mitsubishi: We are focusing… on the  Outlander Sport.  It has a design that stands out and a size that appeals to women, so it’s a natural fit.

VW: The all-new Golf SportWagen blends sedan-like driving dynamics and fuel economy with crossover-style cargo capacity, making it an ideal choice for modern families. Having this model available for female auto journalists and bloggers to share with their audiences helps Volkswagen spread the word that the wagon truly is back.

heels & wheels

What information from the event should women know?

Mazda: The purchasing research that compared women’s buying habits versus men’s buying habits (KBB) was very relevant and interesting from an automaker’s perspective.

Mitsubishi: Women are a demographic that we do keep in mind… because they influence so many car purchases. In that sense, events like these are necessary for the brand.

VW: I was impressed by the wide variety of outlet types. There were not only women writing for female and family-oriented blogs, but also for go-to industry research sites and buff books. Women often make the car-buying decisions in their households and the more they can read about cars from writers with a similar perspective, the better.

Do you think that we need more women in the automotive business and why?

GM:Absolutely! The best way for automakers to understand and serve their female customers is to have women working in every aspect of the business. From my own experience at GM, I’ve felt welcomed from day one. My contributions are appreciated and opinions are valued – and the work is fun, challenging, and fulfilling.

Mazda:· It’s great to have many more women in the automotive industry. It provides a unique perspective to an industry where a lot of women ultimately have a significant influence on the final purchasing decision. Women – and even men – are very welcoming to women in the industry. Even across manufacturers, I feel like the women form a bond that helps us do our jobs better, and gives our companies critical insight, rather than just stepping on each other’s feet.

Nissan: I think having more females in the automotive industry would be a fabulous thing. What I appreciate about the environment at Nissan is that we as a company truly value diversity and believe that it ultimately helps us as we develop new vehicles and outreach strategy.

Mitsubishi: I would love more women in the automotive business. I particularly think that there would be a benefit to more women in dealerships to make the search and purchasing process better, but also…as engineers and product planners. I will say that I was very pleasantly surprised by the event… the women were all so welcoming, very judgment free.

VW: We need more women in the auto industry. Women can inform product and marketing decisions in new ways that will result in more well-rounded and well-received vehicles for everyone.

Heels & Wheels

The vehicles we tested. Prices as driven:

Glamping Mercedes-Benz style

August 4th, 2015

Mercedes-Benz Rocks A Glam Van Camp in Colorado

Mercedes-Benz Vans Camp

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans take versatility to new heights with customizable interiors, 4WD and an affordable new mid-sized Metris.

And who would have figured this van could have so many possibilities, or work for so many different types of drivers? But the Sprinter is just that: Perfect for outfitting as a work van (think mobile cupcake shop, blow-out bar on wheels or delivery truck), a van for vacationing (with a four wheel drive option and a size that can accommodate beds and a bathroom) or in the case of the mid-sized Metris, a family van that seats up to 8.

I got to see all this and more when I was among a group of journalists invited to Mercedes-Benz Van Camp at Dunton Hot Springs, a 5-star ranch at 8600 feet in the mountains of southwest Colorado. The resort, a mining camp in the late 1800’s, went through several iterations, including being abandoned and reborn as a dude ranch that closed in 1990. At its peak, the town had 260 to 300 people living as residents.

In 1994, a family bought Dunton and set about renovating the entire town, which took seven years. Today, the town can be rented for up to 44 people. And that’s just what Mercedes-Benz did. We stayed in hand-hewn log cabins decorated with antiques, brass bathtubs, and lambskin rugs. Dunton Hot Springs is open all year-round and the price of admission to this glam camp gives you deluxe accommodations, a spa, screening room, hot springs, all manner of activities and all meals. The farm to table food includes fruit and vegetable from Dunton’s gardens, local lamb and wine from their winery.

Mercedes-Benz Vans Camp

We were there to test the new mid-sized Sprinter van, the Metris. We also were able to drive a variety of Sprinter vans including R/Vs, the new 4×4, and the super single (single-wheel heavy duty alternative to the 3,500 dually, or double-wheel per axle, version).

Our drive took us from the Durango airport on highways and gravel roads to Dunton and up winding, narrow, mountain passes to Telluride at 8,750 feet. We switched out everything from cargo vans to the Metris to Sprinter R/Vs to test out their comfort level. Seriously, it was not the place I wanted to try out a BIG vehicle but, true to their word, the Sprinters held strong- sturdy and easy to maneuver.

Mercedes Benz Van Camp

“The U.S. is finally coming around to Eurostyle vans,” noted Bernie Glaser, Vice President and Managing Director of Daimler Vans USA, LLC. Eurostyle vans with their unibody construction (versus body on frame), translates to a narrower, taller, design than traditional vans. The overall plus is that this configuration maximizes cargo area.

“The van division for Mercedes-Benz is a $1 billion dollar revenue company. Business is up 19.6% since May; we are outperforming the large van market. The U.S. is our second major market behind Germany,” remarked Glaser.

To accommodate that need, Mercedes-Benz established a separate Vans division in the U.S. for its commercial customers. Sprinter sales are growing so much that the company just invested $500 million in a new plant in Charleston, South Carolina, to produce the second generation of Sprinters. With 276 Sprinter dealers in the U.S., Mercedes-Benz is planning to grow that market with their newest mid-sized van, the Metris.

Mercedes-Benz Vans Camp

The new slogan for Mercedes-Benz Vans division (Sprinter and Metris) –“Vans. Born to Run” – speaks volumes about where the company is going.

Bottom line, the Sprinter can be morphed into anything from a food truck to a luxury motor home, executive coach, dump truck or refrigerated van.

Mercedes-Benz Vans Camp

The Sprinter also has off-road bragging rights with 4 x 4 four-wheel-drive versions that are new to the U.S. The 4 x 4 took 1st place in the crossover division for the 2015 Rallye des Gazelles in the Sahara Desert. The Rallye is one of the toughest all-female sporting events in the world.

The 4 x 4 option is new to the full-sized van market. To wit, Sportsmobile West out of Fresno, California, started in 1961 with VW Camper van conversions, has started outfitting the 4 x 4 Sprinter for the Overlanding and Adventure RV traveler.

Besides the 4 x 4 variant coming to the fleet, the midsize Metris is coming to the U.S. this fall. (The Metris already had a starring role in Jurassic World.)

Mercedes-Benz Vans U.S.A.

Mercedes-Benz Vans Camp

The van seats up to eight with “garage-ability,” meaning it will fit in most garages, making the Metris is good news for small businesses or large families. Mercedes-Benz predicts that Metris sales in the U.S. will be 50% passenger and 50% cargo.

With a starting price of $28,950, the Metris has a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The vehicle comes with rear-wheel drive; four-wheel drive is a future possibility.

A recent report from the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT) cited that 97,775 vans were registered in the first three months of 2015, up 22.3% from a year earlier. The rise in vans was credited to a jolt of online buying. In May, 2015, an article in WardsAuto by Tom Beaman stated that sales in the small commercial van market are up 58% from 2014. Mercedes-Benz is introducing the Metris at a crucial time.


Why you’ll want to stay at the Wynn, Las Vegas

July 15th, 2015

The Wynn Las Vegas and Rolls-Royce. A stunning match of design and class.

See here


What’s Up with Tony Bennett and Ed Welburn?

May 13th, 2015


On SheBuysCars

Ed Welburn, Chief of Design at GM discusses automotive future with students at NYC high school by way of Tony Bennett’s foundation, Exploring the Arts.

Apps Apps Apps…

April 18th, 2015

Some apps to make your drive easier

It’s a new wagon for VW

April 18th, 2015

VW Golf Sportwagen